TIME'S UP ON a big question in Annapolis: in the House of Delegates, a vote is scheduled that will determine precisely which members are sensitive to the clear denial of basic rights that the D.C. congressional representation amendment would correct. That, pure and simple, is the issue -- not any of those convoluted excuses that are trotted out by opponents to dodge the question. The debate has gone on ad nauseam. With the Senate's approval already in hand, it is the delegates' turn to be recorded.

We'll be brief: contrary to what amendment opponents would have their constituents believe, this vote is not a referendum on 1) a commuter tax; 2) the political behavior of Walter Fauntroy; 3) the politics, color, religion or beliefs of anybody else living in the District of Columbia. Similarly, those who try to cast this amendment as some sort of move to upset the federal system are dead wrong. Constitutional scholars from all sections of the country have concluded that representation in the House and Senate of Americans who live in the District of Columbia would in no way undermine the Constitution or its protections; on the contrary, it would end the taxation without representation long suffered by residents of D.C.

Elected officials from Maryland, of all places, should understand what is at stake here. They should know enough to ignore the votes of legislators in others states whose misimpressions of the District led to votes against the amendment. Maryland should be in the forefront of this movement to do what is right for disenfranchised citizens. The Senate has, and Gov. Hughes is ready to -- but it's up to members of the House.